In the run up to the London 2012 the British government has set about plugging grass roots sport as much as they possibly can. As with most recent schemes the money spent has been horribly misallocated and therefore I, as a member of various sports clubs and organisations, have not seen any noticeable benefit.
I am of the opinion that the sports development should have been focused a lot more on school sports and not ridiculous school sports that seem to have crept in (ultimate frisbee I’m looking at you), it should be spent on main school sports clubs such as football, rugby and netball. We have a very poor sporting culture in this country whereby all except the top sportsmen are almost completely ignored by the general public. I’m willing to bet that the average number of spectators to a completely non-professional sporting event in Britain is less than ten and I’d be willing to accept that it is less than 5.
This lack if support is unacceptable for a country that is, not only seeking to promote sport at the present, but also invented most international sports. Take American high schools as an example, a lot of these schools are so well funded that they have ready made stadiums and purpose built facilities for their teams. Plus they fill these facilities quite regularly. The sporting culture is a lot more prominent in the states, it is even acceptable to televise some high school sporting events such as basketball, a) because the standard is high enough due to quality coaching and b) people are much more interested in watching local kids and grassroots sportsmen play.
If the government focused more on funding school sports and getting spectators to be interested in it rather than making schools maximum security health and safety zones then, after a while, the overall standard of sportsmen and women in this country would dramatically improve. This also manages to hit two birds with one stone as it would serve as an antidote to the country’s ever growing obesity problem. Our professional sports-people should be coming straight from our schools, they shouldn’t have to leave the state education system early in order pursue a career in sport. This way sports become a lot more accessible to everyone and we can ensure that our children are getting a wider education. Children who leave school to attend a sports academy are generally left disappointed as there are only a number of people who can become Premier League footballers or Olympic athletes and so a majority have to miss out. If these athletes had stayed in the school system then their education would be broader and they would have other qualifications in order to build a career.
Schemes such as Sainsbury’s Active Kids promotion are doing a good job of keeping schools well equipped in terms of basic equipment but in a lot of schools the infrastructure isn’t there for it to be a success. Take for instance my local school where we have just had a huge drive for media studies. We have high tech, Apple Mac filled media suites and lecturing facilities which are really fancy and make the school look great. But only a few metres away we have dilapidated tennis courts with faded markings and rough tarmac. Just a bit further than that is our expanse of sports field which has to be used for multiple sports on literally the same pitch at the same time. There are no areas for spectators here, this is purely a private affair and so sports clubs have slowly died away up until the point where there are NO sports clubs that run for my age group. No training, no matches, no tournaments. So it’s not hard to guess how many potential professional athletes are graduating from my school this year because, as is the same in most state schools in Britain it is close to zero.